Vivint vs. Ring: The Smart Home Specialist vs. The Security Cam Specialist
Let’s find out which of these popular brands is the right one for you.
- Advanced smart home capabilities
- Professional installation
- Cellular monitoring
- Professional monitoring for $20 per month
- No contract required
- Amazon-owned company
If you’ve been browsing security systems to buy, you might have noticed that a lot of them are similar in so many ways. They offer the same type of sensors, the same professional monitoring features, and so on.
Every once in a while, however, a security systems stand out. Vivint and Ring are prime examples. On one hand, we have Vivint, a smart home security system with a premium feel and advanced smart home security features. On the other hand, we have Ring, an affordable security system that specializes in user-friendly security cameras and video doorbells.
In this comparison page, we’re pitting one against the other to see which offers better home security features, pricing, monitoring, customer support, and apps, among other things. Keep reading to find out which alarm company is better positioned to protect your family and home.
Vivint and Ring’s Key Similarities
Ring and Vivint aren’t completely different. They are both home security systems, after all, and they are bound to have at least a few things in common. What are they?
- Wireless equipment: Vivint and Ring are two of the best wireless security systems. Everything from sensors and cameras to keypads and control panels mesh together wirelessly.
- Security camera options: Vivint and Ring offer indoor and outdoor video coverage via security cameras and video doorbells.
- App access: Controlling a security system is easy with either brand, as both of them offer smartphone apps for quick and convenient remote control.
- Voice AI integration: In addition to remote smartphone control, Vivint and Ring work with Alexa and Google Assistant to offer voice control.
- Professional emergency response: Lastly, Vivint and Ring can both be monitored by a monitoring center, also known as professional monitoring.
Vivint and Ring’s Key Differences
Outside of those things, Vivint and Ring couldn’t be more different. To give you an overview of how the two brands compare, here are the key areas where they differ:
- Cost: Ring positions itself as an affordable home security option, while Vivint stands on the opposite end as one of the more pricey home security systems.
- Installation: Vivint technicians take care of the installation to ensure a smooth and successful setup. With Ring, users are expected to install the system DIY-style, although professional installation is available as an add-on.
- Self-monitoring: Users can self-monitor Ring without monthly fees, while Vivint customers need an ongoing professional monitoring plan to use the system.
- Smart home security: Vivint home automation offers a premium smart home security solution, capable of pairing with and automating smart devices like smart thermostats and lights. While Ring supports integrations with third-party smart devices, its home automation features fall short compared to Vivint.
- Security camera options: Ring offers a wide range of security cameras and doorbell cameras, and most of these cameras offer special features such as an integrated smart light and radar-assisted motion detection. While Vivint’s security cameras are advanced, Vivint just doesn’t offer as many options as Ring does.
Now that we’ve compared Vivint and Ring on a high level, let’s zoom in.
Security systems typically consist of a central control device, security and environment sensors, and security cameras. Vivint and Ring offer all those pieces, but let’s see how their actual equipment compares.
The central device for Vivint security systems is called the Vivint Smart Hub. It’s a tablet-like, touch-screen keypad.
On the hardware side, it features a built-in cellular chip for communication and it also supports Wi-Fi. On top of that, it has a 24-hour battery backup.
On the software side, the Vivint tablet runs Vivint’s custom security software that allows it to control, access, and modify your security system. It can even show you security camera footage right on the screen.
With Ring, the central device is called a base station. It’s a low-profile, router-like device that connects to sensors and other Ring devices wirelessly. It has a built-in siren, battery backup, and a cellular chip that activates if you sign up for a monitoring plan. By default, it connects to your Wi-Fi network. The base station doesn’t have controls, but it comes with a wireless keypad that you can place near your front door for easy arming and disarming.
Vivint offers a wide array of sensors, all of them wireless, to connect to the Vivint Smart Hub. For security monitoring, Vivint offers motion sensors, different types of door and window sensors, and glass break sensors. Notably, Vivint offers a recessed-type door sensor that installs flush with the door frame so as not to interfere with your door’s design.
Vivint also offers hazard sensors. These include smoke alarms, CO detectors, water and flood sensors, and freeze sensors. We took a closer look at these sensors in our Vivint home security review.
Ring, on the other hand, offers just the bare essentials. There are indoor entry sensors, outdoor entry sensors for detached sheds, motion sensors, glass break sensors, and smoke and CO alarm listeners.
Keep in mind that the smoke and CO listeners don’t detect smoke and gas leaks. They simply listen for the sound of smoke and CO alarms, so you’ll need to keep your existing smoke and CO detectors.
Vivint offers three security cameras: the Vivint Indoor Camera Pro, Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, and Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro. These are some of the smartest home security cameras we’ve tested. For instance, in our review of the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, we mentioned how it uses AI to detect lurkers and ward them off. The other Vivint cameras use the same AI to improve detection and eliminate false alarms. Not to mention, they all have superb video quality (1080p HD to 4K UHD), night vision, and a memory card slot for local storage.
Vivint may have the upper hand in terms of quality, but when it comes to quantity, Ring takes home the trophy. It offers dozens of options, and many of them are a lot more affordable than what Vivint offers.
Just to give you a sampling, Ring’s outdoor cameras come in three flavors: the Stick Up Cam which is a basic, plug-in type; the Spotlight Cam, which has integrated spotlights; and the Floodlight Cam, which has brighter and more powerful floodlights. In addition to these variants, each type comes in a plug-in, battery-powered, or solar-powered model. Ring really does offer something for everybody.
Pro Tip: For a complete, in-depth look at Ring’s security camera and doorbell camera offerings, check out our Ring security camera review and Ring doorbell camera review.
As far as equipment goes, Vivint is the clear winner. Vivint offers a more well-rounded selection of sensors, and even though Ring offers more security camera options, Vivint’s cameras are nothing to sneeze at. On top of that, it’s great that Vivint’s touchscreen hub offers advanced controls so you don’t have to use a smartphone every time you want to access or manage your security system.
This is one of those areas where your preference will decide the winner. Basically, go with Vivint if you prefer professional installation, or choose Ring if you want DIY installation. Either way, your installation and setup experience will likely be great, as Vivint is one of the best professionally installed security systems and Ring is one of the best DIY security systems.
When we tested Vivint, a technician came to our house to install the system. He was very professional, and he took care of things every step of the way. He arrived with the right tools, and he seemed very knowledgeable about the system, even answering every question we threw at him. We just had to be there to oversee the installation and to listen as he explained how to use and maximize the equipment. Overall, it was a smooth experience that didn’t take more than a couple of hours.
Pro Tip: Vivint’s professional installation service isn’t free, but you can take advantage of special promotions and Vivint deals to waive the installation fee.
When we reviewed the Ring Alarm system and Ring cameras, all the hardware came in boxes, and we had to set everything up ourselves. The upside of this was that it was free because we did all the work. Ring Alarm and Ring devices are designed for DIY setup, so they weren’t difficult to install. All in all, we spent less than 30 minutes installing and setting up the sensors, as well as a few minutes for each security camera.
In particular, we liked how easy it was to set up the Ring Indoor Cam. We simply plugged it in, connected it to our Ring app, and it was good to go. This easy setup is among the reasons why the Ring Indoor Cam is one of the best indoor security cameras on the market.
Monitoring and Monitoring Cost Comparison
This is another area where your preference will be the deciding factor. Vivint requires professional monitoring; Vivint security systems won’t function without it. On the other hand, Ring Alarm can be either self-monitored or monitored by a monitoring center.
If you want to self-monitor, definitely go with Ring. Self-monitoring is free, and with this option, you’ll get app alerts and siren alarms in case of emergencies. However, it will be your job to call for help when necessary.
If you prefer professional monitoring, here are your options from Vivint.
Vivint monitoring plans cost $29.99 per month and up, and they include 24/7 professional monitoring, smartphone access, and additional features like smart home automation and video storage in the cloud. We’ve made a Vivint pricing guide that details how much the plans actually cost and what they include. Here’s an overview:
|Monthly price||Professional monitoring||Advanced automation||Video storage and monitoring|
Vivint uses cellular monitoring, which is actually one of the most reliable monitoring methods. The Smart Hub’s built-in cellular chip sends alerts to the monitoring center via cellular signals. Besides being fast and reliable, Vivint’s alarm signals are encrypted for your privacy and protection, making Vivint one of the best cellular security systems.
Ring Alarm Monitoring
Ring’s professional monitoring service is a feature included in the Ring Protect Pro plan, which costs $20 per month or $200 per year (discounted). This plan also offers cellular backup, which is slightly different from cellular monitoring. With cellular backup, your Ring Alarm will typically use your Wi-Fi network to send alerts. But when your Wi-Fi is down, the cellular chip will activate to ensure that alarms go through.
There are other features included in Ring’s affordable monitoring plan too. Notably, it includes 60 days of cloud video history for all your Ring cameras, so you won’t need a separate cloud plan.
|Ring plans||Protect Basic||Protec Plus||Protect Pro|
|Price per month||$3||$10||$20|
|Cloud storage||60 days, 1 camera||60 days, unlimited cameras||60 days, unlimited cameras|
|Extras||10% off Ring products||Basic perk, plus limited lifetime warranty||Plus perks, plus cellular backup, backup internet (Alarm Pro), local video storage (Alarm Pro), Alexa Guard (Alarm Pro)|
Did You Know: Although Ring may not be as responsive or reliable as Vivint, at $20 per month, its Protect Pro monitoring plan is one of the most affordable monitoring plans. It includes 24/7 monitoring, smartphone access, basic smart home features, and unlimited cloud storage. You’ll also get upgraded features if you use it with a Ring Alarm Pro system, which has a base station that doubles as a Wi-Fi router with backup cellular data. You can learn more about Ring’s plans in our Ring pricing guide.
In terms of quality, our pick goes to Vivint, as Vivint’s monitoring plans offer more advanced features that you can’t get from a Ring monitoring plan. For example, Vivint’s mid-tier plan offers advanced home automation that controls smart thermostats, locks, and lights using schedules, scenes, and automation rules.
That being said, Ring wins when it comes to affordability and value. A price of $20 per month for comprehensive security monitoring is hard to beat, and it includes unlimited cloud storage for any number of Ring cameras.
Home Automation Comparison
When it comes to home automation, Vivint is the clear winner, and here’s why.
Vivint is one of the best smart security systems, primarily because the system offers native support and controls for a wide range of smart home products. Aside from the smart devices that Vivint offers, the hub has a Z-Wave radio chip that allows it to pair with third-party brands.
Once they are paired to your Vivint hub, you’ll be able to control third-party products like they’re a real part of the Vivint system. You’ll be able to turn smart lights on and off, set your smart thermostat’s temperature, and lock and unlock smart locks. You can even use schedules, scenes, and automation rules to automate how they operate. And if you’re an Alexa or Google Assistant user, you can control Vivint and connected devices with your voice.
That doesn’t mean that Ring has zero smart home support. Ring also supports voice assistant integrations, and the Ring Alarm does have a Z-Wave radio built in as well, but so far, it pairs only with third-party smoke alarms and smart locks. Ring has yet to fulfill its potential in smart home security, so for now, the home automation winner is Vivint.
Overall Cost Comparison
To cap off this comparison, let’s talk about how much it costs to buy and use Vivint and Ring systems.
One of the biggest differences between Vivint and Ring is the cost. Ring is one of the most affordable security systems, both in terms of equipment and monitoring, while Vivint is positioned as a premium security system, with premium prices to match. Let’s compare.
Equipment Cost Comparison
Vivint’s sensors cost at least $50 per piece. Some sensors cost more, but that’s the average price you should expect to pay. Security cameras, on the other hand, cost $200 and up. The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro is the most expensive, at $400.
From that alone, you can see that a Vivint system won’t come cheap, but you don’t have to pay the equipment cost upfront. You can finance it and pay over a period of four to five years. If your equipment total is $800, for example, you can pay it off in 60 months at only $13 per month (plus monitoring).
With Ring, a basic security system costs about $250. From there, you can add sensors for about $20 to $40 per piece. As for security cameras, the price will depend on the model. The cheapest camera is the Indoor Cam at $60, but more advanced cameras like the Floodlight Cam can actually cost over $200.
Ring equipment is typically paid for upfront, but financing plans are available via Affirm.
We’ve discussed this earlier, but just to recap, Vivint monitoring costs $29.99 to $49.99 per month. Ring’s monitoring costs $20.
One crucial factor to consider is the monitoring contract. If you finance your Vivint equipment, you will have to sign a contract that will lock you into Vivint’s monitoring service for the same term as your financing plan. During this time, you can’t cancel your monitoring service, as doing so will result in hefty penalties.
With Ring, you are free to cancel anytime, as all contracts are month-to-month (unless you pay one year in advance, in which case, the contract is one year). This also makes Ring a good security system for renters, as the absence of a contract gives them flexibility to move or change their monitoring plans.
Installation and Other Costs
Vivint and Ring generally don’t have hidden fees, but keep in mind that Vivint’s installation isn’t free. You’ll pay an installation fee, but as we mentioned earlier, Vivint sometimes has special deals that waive this fee.
The Final Verdict: Who Won?
In terms of equipment, features, and monitoring, Vivint has the upper hand by a longshot, but it’s also true that these aren’t the only factors that should sway the decision of home security buyers. Cost, ease of use, and installation are other factors to consider.
Vivint and Ring are very different security systems, and depending on what you’re looking for, either one of them can protect your home. So here’s our recommendation:
Choose Vivint if you value:
- Smart home security
- Intelligent security cameras
- A variety of equipment options
- Premium features built around easy controls
- Professional installation
- Reliable 24/7 professional monitoring
Choose Ring if you value:
- DIY installation
- Affordable monthly rates
- Month-to-month contracts
- Security and doorbell cameras
- Affordable cloud storage plans
We hope this guide helped you make a decision, but if you need more options, here’s another guide that details what you should look for in a security system.
FAQs On Vivint and Ring
To end this comparison, let’s answer some FAQs about our featured security systems.
Is Vivint expensive?
Vivint is more expensive than most security systems, but it makes up for the higher price tag with premium features that we rarely see anywhere else. For example, Vivint’s ability to pair with and control home automation devices is beyond the capability of most security systems, including Ring Alarm.
What’s the difference between the Ring Alarm and the Ring Alarm Pro?
Both the Ring Alarm and the Ring Alarm Pro use the same components, but the difference lies in the base station. Ring Alarm’s base station is a typical hub with siren and battery backup. Ring Alarm Pro’s base station doubles as an eero Wi-Fi router. As such, it can provide your smart home devices access to the internet.
Are Ring security cameras monitored?
Ring security cameras are not monitored. Ring monitors Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro systems only. That being said, if you buy a monitoring subscription, it includes 60 days of cloud storage for all your Ring cameras. And because the cameras and the security system use the same app, you can control and access your security system along with your cameras.
Do all Vivint systems have a touchscreen panel?
Yes. The Vivint Smart Hub, which is a touchscreen control panel, comes standard with every Vivint security system.
Does Ring offer a touchscreen control panel?
No. Ring offers a remote keypad with tactile keys only. That being said, the Ring app functions as the security system’s mobile control panel, so the controls you would expect to see on a touchscreen panel are all integrated into the app.